The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ Week 4

Yours Truly was right about something! Yeah, I'm a little scared, too.

The Bullet Points

  • Well folks, when you’re right about 20% of the time…you’re wrong about 80% of the time. Probably. But you can still take credit when your score prediction is really close to what the final score turned out to be, right? No? Well too bad, ‘cause that’s what I’m doing here. Last week, I predicted Nevada would beat Buffalo 38-17, and it ended up being 38-14. Sooooo yeah. You can now shower me with praise, or whatever else it is you people do for your superiors. I also accept cash, checks and money orders, so get on that.

  • And it’s hard not to be in a similarly whistling mood after Nevada’s offense finally found something resembling a cohesive identity in the third week of the season. That identity, for now, is “Give the ball to James Butler, throw in just enough passes to keep a defense honest, give the ball to Jaxson Kincaide, throw in a little misdirection, rinse, repeat.” It’s a pretty good identity so far, as the Pack’s 352 rushing yards, numerous successful scoring drives and decisive time of possession advantage all attest. Not to mention quarterback play, special teams play and coaching were all improved from previous weeks. Having it all coincide with a legitimately heartening celebration of Mackay Stadium’s 50th anniversary and a pretty stellar class of Nevada Hall of Fame inductions was icing on the silver and blue cake. Progress!

  • I could even add defense to that list, a unit that held the Bulls scoreless for almost three whole quarters while the offense built up an insurmountable lead. But for all of those positives, Buffalo is probably not a very good team right now, and they still exposed a defensive front seven that hasn’t caught up with the offense just yet. Yeah, the Buffalo quarterback couldn’t complete most of the passes he put up, but that was much more from his own lack of experience than Nevada’s defense. That front seven allowed 6.6 yards per carry, and were unable to get a sack for the third week in a row. Why is that a big deal? The Mountain West is stacked with quality running backs: Donnel Pumphrey, Brian Hill, Jeremy McNichols and Paul Harris, to name a few. And that’s not including the triple option attacks at Air Force and New Mexico, who always seem to churn out a few human yardage machines each season. In short, if those 6.6 yards per carry on Saturday night didn’t worry you, they will by the time conference play begins.

  • That’s the spot Nevada is in as they head back to Indiana this week: an offense more sure of itself coupled with a defense seemingly still figuring itself out. They’ll line up across from a Purdue team that has been one of the worst power conference teams in the country since 2013. Their offense can’t hold on to the ball for long, their defense can’t get off the field enough, and Boilermaker fans have seemingly had enough with their fourth-year head coach Darrell Hazell. If there was ever a time for Nevada to pick up another road win against a power conference team, the stars are aligning for them to do just that in West Lafayette. It’s not a coincidence that those other two wins — Washington in 2003 and Cal in 2012 — came against coaches who were either in over their head (Keith Gilbertson, who only lasted two seasons in Seattle) or on their way out the door (Jeff Tedford, who was fired at the end of 2012). For the sake of his own future at Nevada, Brian Polian almost surely sees the rarity of this opportunity. My bet is that his players’ performance will reflect that sense of urgency, and be just enough to overcome another long flight east. Hold on to yer butts! Pre-season prediction: Nevada 34, Purdue 31. New prediction: Nevada 42, Purdue 35.

The Beer

Alibi Pale Ale (Incline Village, NV) ~ Since I couldn’t find any beers related to trains or from Indiana this week, that means it’s time for another installment of “What’s In My Fridge?” So crank up the Tijuana Brass and let’s roll! Alibi Ale Works opened its doors in an old Napa Auto Parts building in Incline Village a few years ago, and they churn out a lot of funky saisons, sours and barrel-aged beers. Their pale ale is one of a few canned offerings available in area liquor stores, along with a kölsch, an IPA and a berlinerweisse. It poured a clear golden copper color, but was disappointingly flat. Thankfully, the smells were still present, with pine and citrus chief among them. Pine and orange continued in the taste with some toasted malts that struck a nice balance with five different kinds of hops. Even with what I suspect was an older can, this is still a nicely drinkable pale ale. I’d like to try it again with a fresher batch and see if it’s worthy of a higher score. In the mean time, I give this one three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:

Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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